I’ve had my fair share of acne and uneven skin tone in my early 20s on my face and on my back. If you told me to pose in front of the camera without make-up 3 years ago, I would’ve had said, “hell no.” The fact that I can confidently show my bare face (photo above) on the world wide web is a huge accomplishment for me. Slowly, but surely, I was able to improve my skin quality and tone over the years by addressing what I was putting in and on my body.
Unsurprisingly, skin issues are one of the most common health complaints I hear from people, besides digestion. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from acne, rosacea, and rashes that they feel self-conscious about all the time. Although many do not consider their skin problems a “health issue,” skin conditions like adult acne are a depiction of what is going on inside our bodies. It’s our body’s way of telling us that there’s some kind of inflammation going on inside, and once we address the root cause of the problem, our skin can clear up as well. Depending on birth control pills, acne-reducing drugs, topical creams, and antibiotics should not be a long term solution to clear up your skin. Most of these can actually cause imbalances in the body that cause digestive and hormonal problems after continual use. They only work by treating the symptoms instead of addressing what’s causing these issues.
So how do we address the root cause? Here are 6 common causes of adult acne:
1. Food allergies and/or sensitivities
When your body reacts negatively to a certain food, it’s causing inflammation in the body, specifically in the gut. Food allergies and sensitivities are strongly correlated to leaky gut syndrome, in which your intestinal wall is damaged enough that inappropriate food particles leak through into the bloodstreams. These particles then travel to various parts of the body and cause inflammation, even on your skin. When you can’t figure out what’s causing your acne, I would first look at food sensitivities. Dairy is a common acne-causing culprit, but other common food allergens are: gluten, eggs, grains, soy, and nuts. Trying an elimination diet to see if the symptoms improve may be a great place to start.
2. Digestive disorders.
This is strongly related to food allergies and sensitivities, but digestive disorders like SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth), candida, parasites, yeast, and dysbiosis are all related to the leaky gut syndrome. If these conditions are not treated and are prolonged, they can affect other parts of your body with symptoms like drowsiness, depression, recurring UTIs and yeast infections, muscle and joint pain, fever, and skin conditions like acne, dryness, and itchiness. If you suspect any of these digestive orders, I highly recommend you work with a naturopath or contact me to address them properly.
3. Conventional skin care products and cosmetics
Lotions, face wash, make-up, and even hair care products that you can find at drug stores are filled with chemicals and toxins that not only compromise the quality of our skin, but also cause hormonal and toxicity issues in the body that lead to a host of diseases. While they may feel like they are working for a short time, when used long term, harmful substances in these products can build up in our body and our skin, clogging up our pores and leading to various skin conditions. Remember that our skin is our largest organ and it does absorb all things that we put on it. I’m a follower of the rule: don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. For a list of safer skin care products, check out EWG’s Skin Deep database to reduce the toxins that enter your body. You can also try out the oil cleansing method and bentonite clay masks for a more natural way to clean your face.
Your body can’t go through the process of healing in a stressful state, and will actually increase the level of inflammation. When stress hormones are elevated, changes occur in the body so your body can get into its fight-or-flight state. Your blood pressure drops, your heartbeat increases, and blood rushes to your limbs so you can run away or fight. These physical changes and hormone fluctuations are caused by the elevation of cortisol in the body, which also increases the production of oil on your skin. This overproduction of oil clogs up the pores, not allowing your skin to breathe, which increases the risk of acne and skin conditions. To reduce this risk and to improve your health overall, it’s important to practice stress management through breathing, meditation, relaxation techniques, and taking care of yourself.
5. High sugar consumption
Like you needed another reason to cut out sugar in your diet, right? But it’s true. High carb and high sugar intake spike up your insulin and cortisol levels which creates a sudden surge of inflammation in the body. This leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, prematurely aging you from inside out and worsening skin conditions like wrinkles, acne, and rosacea. One of the most common testimonials I get from the participants of my RESTART sugar detox program include how much their skin has improved in just a few weeks of giving up sugar. I highly encourage you to reduce your sugar consumption not just for your skin, but also for your overall health as well.
6. Lack of healthy fats
Healthy fatty acid deficiency is so common these days, and it may be a huge contributor to various skin conditions. Eating high quality fats can help us absorb Vitamin A, D, E, and K better, nutrients that are crucial to keep our bones and skin healthy. Also, a healthy balance of fats is essential in keeping our inflammation in check. We need enough Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as high-quality saturated fats (mmm butter), to reduce the overall inflammation in our body. However, many Americans are either on a low-fat diet or consuming way too much Omega-6 and trans fats which are highly inflammatory. And you bet this elevated level in inflammation will affect your skin as well. Avoiding vegetables oils and trans fats, while increasing your intake of fats from healthy animals is a great step to improving your skin and your health. I would also consider regularly consuming wild-caught fish or supplementing with high quality cod liver oil.
Adult acne can be quite frustrating and annoying, but by taking the right steps to improve your health and address the root cause of where they are coming from, you can heal your skin from inside out. I’m not saying I now have perfect skin. I still struggle with acne now and then, but now I know where they stem from. Usually, it’s when I eat too much sugar, or if I’m particularly stressed from work or lack of sleep. Just knowing the root cause empowers me to easily figure out what imbalances I’m experiencing and how to fix them, so I can then reduce my acne as well. Taking the time to find out what’s really going on in your body is well worth the effort, and you’ll find that the results will last much longer than any over-the-counter products or prescription drugs.
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